I’ll be honest, I’d spotted the advertising for Shropshire Oktoberfest, but I’d let it wash by me. As a non-local, I’d assumed that it would be one of those big corporate affairs that tours the country. £7 pints of generic lager, a perfunctory oompah band and no chance of a seat amongst the stag parties. But a kindly local (thanks Shropshire Chamber of Commerce!) put me right. It is a beer festival organised by Shropshire Festivals, an independent company that runs a range of events throughout the year.
And there are no big-name beers on-site, at all. It’s a revelation. It’s genius. I love it.
And looking at the details, Oktoberfest looks EPIC. Held over 2 days, the 30th September and the 1st of October to be precise, there will be 150 real ales from around the region and from further afield on offer. I can’t tell you how much it will be for a pint to be fair, but it’ll be good beer. There are a range of German and German-style delights, if your Oktoberfesting ain’t complete without a refreshing pilsner, a full-bodied helles or an ester-laden weissbier. But there is also a strong complement of the full gamut of beer styles to suit any palate. There genuinely is a beer for everyone, and if you think you don’t like beer, you just haven’t found the right one yet.
My personal picks at the moment would include the Weissbier from ABK for a note of authenticity. I love wheat beer, in fact, I wrote about them for Sourced magazine not so long ago. The Ludlow Brewing Red Dawn has a strong appeal because of the consistency of the brewery and the continued relative scarcity of red ales. And finally, the wonderful HPA from Wye Valley because it’s an absolute classic. However, at a beer festival, I am much more likely to pick beers that I don’t know, so in reality, I’ll be sidling up to Wrexham, Stonehouse and Magic Dragon to sample their wares.
And the rest
And if you’re not a beer fan… Well, you can always come and ask me for a recommendation and we’ll find something you love. But equally there are a range of ciders and perries on offer, alongside a Prosecco bar, wine, gin and cocktails. Also the odd soft drink, mocktail and alcohol-free offering. I can usually be tempted into an Aperol Spritz at Aperitivo time.
You’ve also got plenty of stalls to browse. Handmade goodies, beautifully crafted jewellery, musical instruments and even the RSPB. Plus when you get peckish, browse the snack stalls and street food selection. I’ve got my eye on Gyoza Gyoza and the Brazilian salted beef at The Big BBQ personally.
There’s a packed programme of music on the main stage. Local favourites Dirty Rockin Scoundrels will perform their 50s and 60s favourites. And I cannot get over the name of Vorsprung Durch Oompah. Why does Shrewsbury have its own German festival band? I don’t know, and I don’t care. I want in. You’ve also got party music, indie, and light daytime acoustic. A rich and varied programme, one might venture to say.
You can also take a seat and laugh your socks off at the Comedy Club. Micky P Kerr, Josh Pugh, Gordon Southern and more will be performing. It looks like that is happening on the Saturday, so bear it in mind when you buy your tickets.
Oh, and if you like drinking, you like dancing, but you hate talking to people, there’s also a silent disco. I don’t *think* that’s my kind of thing, but we’ll see what happens after a pint or two.
So, beer. Local businesses. Top tunes. Giggles. VIP packages available. See you there?
🐐 Quarry Park, Shrewsbury, SY1 1RN
🐐 30th September & 1st October